More facts have emerged about Michael Bello, the gunman who shot seven people at the Bronx-Lebanon Hospital Centre, New York on Friday, and identified as a Nigerian.
Bola Omotosho, the Community Board Chair for The Bronx 5, New York, told the Correspondent of the News Agency of Nigeria that Mr. Bello hailed from Auchi, Edo State.
Mr. Bello, 45, shot dead a woman on the 17th floor and injured six others on the 16th floor, before allegedly killing himself, the New York Police Department Commissioner James O’Neil, said.
He went into the hospital, his former workplace, wearing a white lab coat with an AR-15 machine gun hidden underneath and asked for a specific doctor on the 16th floor.
However, when he was told the doctor was not there, he started shooting at everyone and tried to set himself on fire before allegedly committing suicide.
Mr. Omotosho said: “He (Bello) is a Nigerian, he’s from Auchi, virtually not that I knew him personally but he had his medical education in the Caribbean, came back here – U.S.
“He left the hospital and up till recent, was working with the HRA – Human Resources Administration – here in the Bronx, after he left the hospital.
“But he left that place, the HRA where he was working, unceremoniously. The relevance of this is there are several Nigerians in the HRA, New York City Human Resources Administration.
“So, he just abandoned the job and when he did not show up after a couple of weeks even up to a month, he was recently terminated from there about two or three weeks ago or so.
“But of course, he must have had his own challenges, while he was planning something.
“And in addition to that, very recently, as at this past week, less than two weeks ago, was when they notified the HRA Police as part of precautionary measure.
“That any ex-staffer who has been dismissed or terminated, should not be allowed into the building; just this past two weeks or less than that.
“It is unfortunate that hospital has no metal detector; we don’t use metal detector in the office.
“That’s the last place you expect a disgruntled worker to come back and do such a heinous crime or retaliation.”
Mr. Omotosho, who has been elected the Community Board Chair for Bronx 5 for 10 years, just got re-elected during the City Council election on June 21.
“I’ve held that position now for 10 years. I’ve been re-elected every year; this is the eleventh year,” the Nigerian-born medical doctor told NAN.
According to him, when the incident involving Mr. Bello occurred, he responded as the Committee Board Chair, as it was part of the process expected of him as the representative of the people.
“The officer from my 46 Precinct, who responded to the 911 call, is in my District.
“So, part of the verification process is for the Public Affairs Officer to call me, being the Committee Board Chair, that ‘this is what’s going on, somebody is killed in your District’.”
Meanwhile, there have been some controversies as to whether Mr. Bello killed himself or was actually shot dead.
It was believed that shooters who committed suicide usually shot themselves on the head and not on the chest as it was in Mr. Bello’s case.
At Mr. Bello’s home in the Bronx, investigators recovered the box the rifle had been packed when he bought it on June 20, reports said.
Of the six people wounded in the shooting, two had been transferred to Mount Sinai Hospital by Sunday as they had injuries to the brain and liver and remained in critical but stable condition.
Four patients – medical residents, a medical student and a patient – remained at Bronx-Lebanon, where they were in stable condition recovering from injuries to the abdomen, neck, thigh and hand, hospital officials said.
Meanwhile, the Nigerian community in the U.S. has condemned the shooting.
The Organization for the Advancement of Nigerians, OAN, in a statement issued by its President, Solomon Bakare, said the Nigerians in the U.S. are the best of their kind.
“The Organization for the Advancement of Nigerians (OAN, Inc.) condemns, in strongest terms, the senseless and shocking shooting of seven innocent people by Dr Henry Bello at the Bronx Lebanon Hospital on Friday, June 30, 2017.
“On behalf of the Nigerian Community in New York City, we offer our sympathies and condolences to the family of Dr Tracy Sin-Yee Tam, the physician whose life was unjustly taken by this senseless shooting.
“Our thoughts and prayers also go to the other victims, most of whom are still undergoing treatment for their injuries, as well as to the entire staff and patients of the Bronx Lebanon Hospital, who have been needlessly traumatised by Dr Bello’s heinous act.
“We like to state categorically that Dr Bello’s dastardly act is by no means reflective of the exemplary service and professionalism of thousands of Nigerian physicians and other health care practitioners all over the United States, who have dedicated their lives and careers to saving lives and are highly respected in the medical field.”
Founded over 25 years ago, the OAN is a New York based not-for-profit organisation that represents the interests of Nigerians in the Diaspora.
The Nigerian organisation has also been at the forefront of encouraging Nigerians to make positive contributions in the U.S.
“OAN is also the arrowhead of the Nigerian Independence Day Parade Committee, which is a coalition of Nigerian religious, professional, and socio-cultural organizations that plans the annual Nigerian Independence Day Parade in New York City.
“These organisations include Association of Nigerian Physicians in the Americas, Nigerian Nurses Association, Nigerian Lawyers Association, Nigerian Social Workers Association, and various religious and Nigerian ethnic associations.
“OAN also sponsors seminars and symposia on various topical issues, and has received several awards, proclamations, and citations from City, State, and Federal elected officials for its work,” the statement read.
Mr. Bello, who hailed from Auchi, Edo State, was going to be fired by the hospital, after reports of sexual harassments, but instead chose to resign in February 2015 in lieu of termination.